Particularly as we near the holidays, I want to share with you a word about guilt.

If you are reading this, you are likely caring for an elderly loved one in some capacity or another.  When we talk to families about their loved one moving into one of our homes, we always remind them we are in the guilt relief business.  The source of guilt may be related to feeling inadequate to care for a loved one at home, from not visiting enough, from the comments the cognitively impaired person makes, from baggage with the elder, or any of a hundred other sources.

Please understand that it is entirely appropriate for you to be relieved of your guilt.  The burden is too heavy and you should not carry it alone.

A few observations about the reasons we feel the emotion of guilt:

  • Regarding your loved one’s care, when a person cannot live alone the work is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.  When we create a caregiver position that is 24/7/365, we hire 4 people as the work week is 168 hours, not 40 hours. You as one person cannot feel guilty when the truth is that it takes 4 people to replace you.
  • On baggage, the elder has those feelings about the past because they either could not forgive or could not forget an unfortunate incident in his or her life.  You cannot take responsibility for another person’s thought process.  If you played a role have not apologized, do so and be done with the issue.
  • On visiting, know that your cognitively impaired loved one cannot calculate the time you spend with them during the holidays, nor does she have the same responsibilities you have.  Even when the elder is not impaired, you may have a built-in sense of guilt no matter how much time you spend with him.  So you must believe that the visit is partly for your peace of mind, and the amount of time you stay is long enough.  With the cognitively impaired, 15 minutes is a long enough visit.\
  • On feelings, whether comments made to you come from someone impaired or not, another person can only make you feel guilty if you give them permission.  Every location has doors.  Let those doors symbolically close on your feelings when you leave the room your loved one is in.  Leave the guilty feelings behind you when you leave that room.

The spiritual person is invited by the Bible to cast his cares on the Lord.  In any case, you need to cast your cares on someone.  If there really is no one to speak with, write it in a journal and close the door on your guilt when you close the cover on your journal.

You’ve read this far because you are a caring and loving person.  You deserve to be at peace.  So as you close the window on this blog, give yourself 15 minutes of personal enjoyment.  Flip through a magazine, take a walk, listen to music or do whatever recharges you.

Guilt relief is yours for the taking.

Reach for it.

And have a blessed holiday season.